thief of time

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Making Allowances

As I think I mentioned before, I come from a fairly small town and moved into this rather large city when I married.

One of the things that’s really different to deal with is the traffic. When I first got here I didn’t drive for about a year. Not only was the volume of traffic horrendous, but my husband’s car was a manual, which added to the trauma. I should mention that not only am I a nervous driver, but I’m totally lacking in any sense of direction whatsoever.

That conquered, I found I didn’t actually have to step too far out of my comfort zone, as the suburbs I drove around in were actually quite bearable and there are lots of ways to avoid major thoroughfares if you have to do so. Anywhere that was too difficult, I let my husband do the driving--and yes I realise that’s very unfemale power of me, but I think if people have certain strengths they should play to them. Driving doesn’t worry my husband and I often do things up a ladder that he’d rather not deal with if he can get away with it. A complimentary partnership, you see. Of course, he also gets to do things like unblock the sewers. I’m afraid that really is very unfeminist of me.

Over the twenty odd years that I’ve been here, this avoidance has really worked out pretty well for me, except that, because neither of my children went to local high schools, I had to learn how to drive to their schools for things like after hour meetings. Never mind, after sufficient time (a matter of years), I was eventually able to drive on my own to both their schools. I was quite proud of myself, let me tell you.

Just lately, with my work, I’ve found myself having to step way out of my comfort zone by driving to parts of Sydney I’ve sometimes not even been to. I tend to drive with a mild sense of panic, as I’m sure I’m going to get lost and I often do. This is the truth, not a joke or exaggeration. I can still remember when the children were little and we were travelling somewhere to go to a mum and kids’ picnic, I was a bit unsure of which way to go and one of them piped up from the back “I wish Dad were here”. Even at that age they knew I was hopeless with directions.

I was driving to work along a six lane highway the other day and I was no more than thinking that my turnoff would be coming up soon, when I drove straight on by it. Yikes!! How could it be, when I’d memorized the map (I thought)? Guess I’m just accomplished—it’s something I do naturally (idiot woman!).

I’ve gotten to the point where I know I’m going to get lost, so I allow myself a fantastic amount of extra time to get somewhere, get lost, find myself again, and then hopefully arrive with time to spare (though sometimes I use the extra time to get mislaid once more). I always travel with a book to do something with my (hopefully) hour’s early arrival.

I have to keep telling myself that this driving is making me a stronger, better person—expanding my horizons.

Who knows, maybe one day I’ll move onto sewers!

Saturday, April 24, 2004


One of the things that I've always known about myself is that I’m quite claustrophobic. When I was younger it used to take the traditional form—an extreme dislike of being hemmed in physically, either by people or by places. I discovered the dislike of small spaces when I was playing hide and seek and sometimes found a place that was too small for comfort.

Fortunately, I’ve never suffered from it in an extreme form, unlike some people that can’t get into lifts. If I find myself getting a bit tense because I can’t move (like in the Easter Show exhibits), I can usually calm myself down.

Lately, I’ve discovered my claustrophobia has shown itself in rather strange ways.

I come from a very small town and moved to Sydney when l married, which is something I'd never imagined doing. By that, I mean move to any city, let alone Sydney.

Most of the time, it isn't too bad, as we live in an older suburb where things were laid out with a fair bit of space.

Occasionally, though, it's a bit overwhelming. I look up to the hills around me and see them totally lined with houses and feel really hemmed in.

It can also hit me when I go into the City shopping and become aware that I'm surrounded by thousands and thousands of people that I don't know and will never know.

There are times when you enjoy the freedom of being in a place where not everyone knows you and your family for generations. Other times, it isn’t a nice feeling at all. Of course, this may just mean I’m becoming agoraphobic in my old age. Still feels like claustrophobia though, and being hemmed in and trapped.

Another weird thing I’ve noticed is that I can’t wear tight rubber gloves. I have a hand that fits a medium quite well and I can put up with a medium, though I always buy large for myself. The few occasions that I have to wear a small and try to pull them off, it’s as though I’m a child again trying to escape from someone or something that’s grabbed me. Can you get claustrophobia of the hands?

As you get older, aren’t you supposed to become more mature and balanced? Of course, that only happens with the really fine wines, doesn’t it? I must be turning into vinegar.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Wake Up Call

Nothing wakes one up quite so much on the drive into work as sitting at the lights, first car in the middle lane, and having a bus come straight at you from around the corner.

Your first thought is ''My, he's taking that corner very wide''. The next thing that comes to notice is the sign in the windscreen--''Caution, driver under instruction''.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Getting Old

When do we actually become aware of the passage of time?

Heck, what I really mean is when do we personally become aware that we're getting old?

As I look back on my life, I find there are a few times that stand out specifically. They're almost defining moments--some of them very culturally determined, I realize, but others may just be me. Maybe they aren't. Maybe everyone has similar times.

I recently passed my 50th birthday and I have to confess that I was rather surprised that it didn't mean a whole lot to me one way or the other. I have to admit that I wasn't very impressed, but it didn't hit me the way I thought it would.

That's when I realized that in my own mind I must have already passed a major barrier when I turned 40, which really did have a major effect on me. Obviously I must have considered myself decrepit from then on.

I remember as a child watching “I Love Lucy” and finding out Lucille Ball was in her forties, which I considered incredible, as the people I knew in their forties didn’t look anything like that.

I also remember hearing about a neighbour who suffered a heart attack and died when he was about 38. As a child, I really didn’t understand when people were saying that this was so young to die. To me, as a preteen, it seemed quite obvious that he had lived a full life and that things like that were to be expected once you passed a certain age. What that certain age was, I’m sure I didn’t know, though the thinking behind it seems incredible to me nowadays.

Something very similar happened with my own children when they were quite young. My daughter was in Year 3 with a teacher that really believed in piling on the homework and I told my son that he’d have all this work to look forward to in a few years. My daughter scoffed at me, saying her teacher, who was in his midthirties, or thereabouts, would be retired by the time my son got into Year 3 (in 3 years time). How young the young are.

Another major barrier for me wasn’t my 30’th birthday, as I passed that rather stunned, having recently given birth to my first child and I was in a state of total and utter sleep deprivation spending two years in a stupor.

The really kicker was 25, as I felt that I’d just left my proper youth behind and was on a slippery slope to 30 and middle age. Wouldn’t I love to be there again!

Another time when I became conscious of my age was when I was about 20 and a young mother told her little girl to get out of the lady’s way. I can still remember my sense of outrage at being considered old enough to be called a “lady”!

Finally, the very first time in my life when I became truly conscious of the passage of time and the fact that I had passed a significant point in it, was when I would have been about 6 or 7 and we’d gathered at the front of the church to go down to Sunday School and some passing remark was made about the children, and I realized I was no longer one of the little, really cute kids, just one of a mass of older, gangly ones. This was the first time that the weight of ages pressed down on me and I have to admit that I felt a real sense of loss.

Never mind, as I press through my middle age (am I really going to live over 100?) I’ll just have to take comfort in my advancing maturity and knowledge (don’t I wish!) and get on with life.

After all, you can’t spend all your time worrying about getting old—not when there are so many people out there far older than me and living very full lives. At least they seem to be. Maybe they’re pulling the wool over our eyes just so we’ll be lulled into a false sense of security, and then we’ll get hit “bam” by old age when we’re least expecting it.

Have a feeling I won’t be one of the golden oldies. I’ll be the crotchety old lady sitting in the corner muttering about the young people of the modern era. In fact, that’s me already! See, old age has already struck.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Wasting time

I finished work early today and came home with the knowledge that I should get busy and do some paperwork that has to be finished before Monday. I really knew that if I'd gone up to the office it would have been done, but I persuaded myself that I was a bit tired and I'd be far more comfortable doing what I had to do from home.

Unfortunately, there was a free computer and no husband in sight, so I started roaming and except for a minimal bit of meal preparation (a meal I can do without thinking about it), I've been here ever since.

It's not my fault my husband is the secretary for two groups and seems to spend interminable time clogging up the computer with very worthy, but rather boring usage. When I see a chance to browse, I grab it, 'cause it may not come for a few more days.

I actually have every sympathy for my husband, because I'm the secretary for a group myself and I often think this has to be the most futile thing I could be doing with my time. Does anyone ever read minutes? I know I only usually give other people's minutes a quick scan and it's usually the spelling mistakes that jump out at me. Very petty of me, I know, so I'd better watch my p's and q's here!

For my sins, there was one dismal period when I was the secretary for four different groups. Two of them, luckily, were very small groups and didn't usually require a whole lot of work other than minute taking and a bit of phoning around. The other two groups required somewhat more.

I always think it's the mark of a truly desperate group when they're forced to take me for a secretary. I'm certainly not the most organised person in the world by a long shot and I tend to do things out of a sense of duty, not out of a blazing enthusiasm for the job. I've been in groups with these sterling individuals and it sure makes a difference to the group and the work that gets done as well.

Only thing is that volunteer organisations don't tend to get a lot of participants any more, so the field to choose from is very limited. I wonder if it was the same in the past, or how far past you'd actually have to go to find interested parents actively working in these groups?

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Easter Show

Well, this is the time of year when many Sydneysiders head off the the "biggest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere". I think I've only missed a couple of shows in the years since I moved here.

Unlike previous years, however, due to different circumstances, I had to go to work the day that was free for other family members, so I didn't get there till 2 o'clock. It's an entirely different feel to the day. Our family is one of those obsessive compulsive families that likes to wake at the crack of dawn and arrive anywhere as they're opening, or preferably before. So, naturally, we're fresh and everyone around us is too.

It's very different when you arrive in the middle of the day. All around, you see marks of despair, anger and vast fatigue. When you're feeling that way yourself, you don't realise how offputting that is to a new arrival.

One young teen was sitting slumped against a stanchion looking like something dire had just happened--maybe a dumping by his girlfriend or maybe he'd just realised he'd spent an entire month's allowance in the past few hours on rides and fast foods.

Another homely scene was a father telling his young son to "eat the hotdog, or he'd bloody shove it down his throat".

Nothing like a family outing and togetherness to bring out the bonding.

Found my son and husband after a bit of searching around. They'd seen a fair bit of what they wanted to see, so sort of backtracked a bit for me, which was nice. Then, I cruelly decided what I really wanted to have a good look at was the craft pavillion. It's one of the things one does at the Royal Easter Show. You look at the District Displays, the animals and the craft.

My poor son, needless to say is not into craft. Quite often he just goes off and sits outside somewhere until I come to my senses and go to find something more interesting. This time, seeing as how I'd just arrived, he must have thought he'd do the gentlemanly thing and stay with us, though how the constant sneering criticism and rolling of eyes was gentlemanly, I'd like to know.

Unfortunately for him, the craft sort of merged into rather a lot of rows of art, very little of which he appreciated either. When I think of all the hours we spent getting him into finger painting and praising all his wonderful efforts, covering our fridge with masterpieces, it all seems a bit sad, somehow. Did none of it wear off?

Never mind, we finally left and managed to find a few more things a bit more interesting to him. I'd say eating, but that would be mean. ; ) And afterall, he did share his chips with us.

Nice day, on the whole, but I'll definitely have to see if I can manage an early start next time we go.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

First Up

After many exclamations about the wonders of blogging, my son has finally decided that this is what I need to do. I have my doubts about my staying power, but we'll see how we go.

Being a total technical incompetent, he very quickly ran through and set everything up for me. Is this a clever ploy at ensuring that I have no idea what I'm doing, so I'll have to constantly turn to him to change anything, thus keeping his eye on what I'm doing so I can't slander him unmercifully? Quite possibly.

I was born in the days of manual typewriters, so the typing bit is fine, it's all the rest that comes attached to this computer that is a bit hazy to me.

Of course, when I say I was born in the days of manual typewriters, I'm afraid I'm exagerrating slightly. That's what we were taught on in Grade 9, just to make us appreciate the electric ones we moved up to in Grade 10. Computers have both beaten hands down. When I think of all the corrections that I had to whiteout my way through in my highschool years it's very plain that the all new fixing up via backspace, as well as cut, copy paste definitely rule.

As for my title, it's "Procrastination" being the thief of time. I'm afraid I have it in a big way. Sometimes when I think about the things that I need to do, I almost feel a physical contraint holding me back. It's both minor and major things, like doing my income tax sooner than a day or two before the deadline or checking to see what the code for our second hand car radio was before the battery decided to die (we didn't make it--it was only two years, after all).

Well, this is it for now.